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University Wellness Plans Don't Work So Well

June 1, 2020

Workplace wellness plans don’t make much of a difference in wellness, as measured by clinical outcomes, according to a two-year study of 4,800 employees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Employees who opted in to this wellness plan showed no significant differences in biometrics, medical diagnoses or medical use relative to a control group. The intervention did increase self-reports of having a primary care physician and improved certain health beliefs, however.

In academe, no wellness plan has been more controversial than the one Pennsylvania State University announced in 2013, which initially involved charging employees $100 a month for not submitting to health screenings and filling out a detailed health questionnaire. Penn State backed down from those requirements shortly after debuting them. The new study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Colleen Flaherty

Colleen Flaherty, Reporter, covers faculty issues for Inside Higher Ed. Prior to joining the publication in 2012, Colleen was military editor at the Killeen Daily Herald, outside Fort Hood, Texas. Before that, she covered government and land use issues for the Greenwich Time and Hersam Acorn Newspapers in her home state of Connecticut. After graduating from McGill University in Montreal in 2005 with a degree in English literature, Colleen taught English and English as a second language in public schools in the Bronx, N.Y. She earned her M.S.Ed. from City University of New York Lehman College in 2008 as part of the New York City Teaching Fellows program. 

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